Ali Smith was born in Inverness in 1962 and lives in Cambridge. She is the author of Artful, There but for the, Freelove, Like, Hotel World, Other Stories and Other Stories, The Whole Story and Other Stories, The Accidental, Girl meets Boy and The First Person and Other Stories. Hotel World was shortlisted for the Booker Prize and the Orange Prize and The Accidental was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and the Orange Prize.
How To Be Both won the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction, the Costa Novel of the Year and and the Goldsmiths Prize, and was shortlisted for the 2014 Man Booker Prize and the Folio Prize. Her most recent novel Autumn is the first of a four-part series in which she explores “what time is, how we experience it”.
He has given readings and lectures in Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, the USA and the UK, and his poems, essays and reviews have been widely published in magazines, journals and newspapers. His collections of poetry include All Just (Carcanet, 2012) and Outwith (Bookthug, 2012), and his recent writings on the politics of human movement have appeared in the Times Literary Supplement, Los Angeles Review of Books, Parallax and Almost Island. He is Professor of Modern Literature at the University of Kent and a co-organiser of Refugee Tales.
A poet and critic, Carol Watts co-directs the Contemporary Poetics Research Centre, and teaches in the Department of English and Humanities at undergraduate and postgraduate levels. Her teaching is known for its dynamism and creativity across a wide interdisciplinary range. ‘Impassioned, informed, provocative and enjoyable’, as one student remarked. ‘Totally eye-opening’.
Carol’s work has been characterised by a strong commitment to exploring the possibilities of collaboration. At the heart of her pedagogy is a belief in the transformative potential of what students can do together, beyond expected outcomes. It has led to what she sees as a ‘mobile creative pragmatics’ in her teaching, in which students are encouraged to grab the process of learning for themselves, and risk new directions, rather than being located solely as client receivers of knowledge.
Since 2006 Carol has developed the unique Voiceworks collaborative programme with colleagues from the Poetics Centre, the Composition and Vocal Studies Departments at Guildhall Conservatoire, and Wigmore Hall, the international venue for song repertoire. Poets and composers and singers improvise and exchange over a period of six months to create songs, performed each May. Carol believes cross-arts learning of the kind investigated by Voiceworks is a new and evolving field that digital technologies and networks are also transforming, and the willingness to be a learner oneself is essential.
Dragan Todorovic is the author of ten books of fiction, non-fiction, and poetry, and has contributed to several collections. His novel Diary of Interrupted Days was shortlisted for Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, Amazon First Novel Award and other awards. His memoir The Book of Revenge won The Nereus Writers’ Trust Non-Fiction Prize and was shortlisted for British Columbia’s National Award for Canadian Non-Fiction. His collection of interactive poetry Five Walks on Isabella Street was winner of the Astound International Competition. Several of his stories have been anthologised. Dragan wrote and directed numerous radio plays, TV documentaries and hosted over hundred and fifty live TV interviews (on Culture Channel and 3K, Serbia). His aural essay In My Language I am Smart was performed in Deep Wireless Festival, on CBC Radio One and published on a CD in 2012. It is currently featured on Earlid, a space dedicated to sound art.
Dragan teaches creative writing at the University of Kent in Canterbury.
Here is his home page, Dragan Todorovic.
Caroline Bergvall was born in Germany to a Norwegian father and a French mother. She earned degrees from the Université de la Sorbonne Nouvelle, the University of Warwick, and the Dartington College of Arts. Her work has been commissioned and shown by such institutions as MoMA, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Antwerp.
Bergvall’s books of poetry and hybrid writing include Strange Passage: A Choral Poem (1993), Goan Atom (2001), Fig (2005), Alyson Singes (2008), and Meddle English (2010). A former director of the writing programme at Dartington College, Bergvall has also taught at Cardiff University and Bard College. From 2007 to 2010, she was the Arts and Humanities Research Council Fellow in the Creative and Performing Arts at the University of Southampton. She is currently based in London.
He is the author of Spectacular Allegories (1998), Interrupting Auschwitz (2003) and How to Read Freud (2005), as well as numerous reviews and articles on modern literature, philosophy and psychoanalysis, appearing regularly in the TLS, Guardian and New Statesman. His latest book, The Private Life, was published by Granta in 2013, and addresses our current raging anxieties about privacy through explorations in psychoanalysis, literature and contemporary life.
Jackie Kay was born in Edinburgh in 1961 to a Scottish mother and a Nigerian father. She was adopted as a baby by a white Scottish couple, Helen and John Kay, and grew up in Glasgow. She studied English at the University of Stirling and her first book of poetry, the partially autobiographical The Adoption Papers, was published in 1991 and won the Saltire Society Scottish First Book Award. Her other awards include the 1994 Somerset Maugham Award for Other Lovers, and the Guardian Fiction Prize for Trumpet.
Kay writes extensively for stage, screen and for children. Her drama The Lamplighter is an exploration of the Atlantic slave trade. In 2010 she published Red Dust Road, an account of her search for her biological parents. Jackie Kay was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) on 17 June 2006. She was Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University Cultural Fellow at Glasgow Caledonian University and is now Chancellor of the University of Salford, and “Writer in Residence” In March 2016, it was announced that Kay would be taking up the position of Scots Makar (national poet of Scotland).
Rachel Holmes is the author of Eleanor Marx: A Life, serialised on BBC Radio 4 Book of the Week and shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize. Her previous books include The Hottentot Venus: The life and death of Saartjie Baartman and The Secret Life of Dr James Barry. Her most recent collective book projects include Fifty Shades of Feminism and I Call Myself a Feminist. Holmes is Visiting Literary Fellow at Mansfield College Oxford.
Her biography of Sylvia Pankhurst is to be published by Bloombury in 2018.
Olivia Laing is a writer and critic. She was born in 1977 and lives in Cambridge. She writes and reviews widely, for the Guardian, New Statesman, Observer and New York Times among other publications. She’s also a regular columnist for Frieze.
Her first book, To the River, was published by Canongate in 2011 and was shortlisted for the Ondaatje Prize and the Dolman Travel Book of the Year. Her second book, The Trip to Echo Spring, about writers and alcoholism, was published by Canongate in 2013. It was shortlisted for the Costa Prize and the Gordon Burn Prize. She’s a MacDowell and Yaddo Fellow, and has received awards from the Arts Council UK and the Authors’ Foundation. She was also 2014 Eccles Writer in Residence at the British Library.
Her new book, The Lonely City: Adventures in the Art of Being Alone, is in an investigation into loneliness by way of art. It was published by Canongate in March 2016.
Kamila Shamsie, novelist, was born in 1973 in Pakistan.
Her first novel, In the City by the Sea, was shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, and her second, Salt and Saffron, won her a place on Orange’s list of ’21 Writers for the 21st Century’. In 1999 Kamila received the Prime Minister’s Award for Literature in Pakistan. Her third novel, Kartography (2004), explores the strained relationship between soulmates Karim and Raheen, set against a backdrop of ethnic violence.
Kamila Shamsie lives in London and Karachi. She has a BA in Creative Writing from Hamilton College in Clinton New York, where she has also taught Creative Writing, and a MFA from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She also writes for The Guardian, The New Statesman, Index on Censorship and Prospect magazine, and broadcasts on radio.
She has written Broken Verses (2005), and Burnt Shadows (2009), an epic narrative which was shortlisted for the 2009 Orange Prize for Fiction. Her seventh novel, Home Fire, was longlisted for the 2017 Booker Prize, and in 2018 won the Women’s Prize for Fiction.
Abdulrazak Gurnah was born in 1948 in Zanzibar and teaches at the University of Kent. He is the author of seven novels which include Paradise (shortlisted for both the Booker and the Whitbread Prizes), By the Sea (longlisted for the Booker Prize and awarded the RFI Temoin du monde prize) and Desertion (shortlisted for the Commonwealth Prize).
There is more about Adulrazak Gurnah’s work here.
Avaes Mohammad works across poetry, theatre and performance. With a background in the chemical sciences, Artist-Alchemist Avaes Mohammad’s influences stretch from the Sufi-Saints of South Asia to the Dub-Poets of Jamaica and he has performed his poetry on stages across the UK, Europe, India, Pakistan and South Africa. His poem Bhopal, as commissioned by BBC Radio 4 won an Amnesty International Media Award.
As a playwright Avaes has been commissioned by BBC Radio and several theatre companies across the country with his plays Bhopal (2003), In God We Trust (2005), The Student (2007), Shadow Companion
(2008), Crystal Kisses (2010/2011), Fields of Grey (2012) and Of Another World (2014), consistently achieving high reviews. He wrote a double-bill to open at the Park Theatre, London, in Spring 2015.
Avaes has also conducted playwriting and poetry workshops worldwide with organizations that include The Royal Court (London), English PEN, British Council and the Alternative Living Theatre (India). In 2012 he co-founded The Lahore Agitprop Theatre Company in Pakistan.
Committed and constantly excited by how his work as an artist can support society, Avaes Mohammad is currently Associate Artist with Red Ladder Theatre Company, Fellow of the Muslim Institute and Trustee of the Bhopal Medical Appeal.
His debut novel Incendiary won a 2006 Somerset Maugham Award, was shortlisted for the 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize, won the United States Book-of-the-Month Club’s First Fiction award 2005 and won the Prix Spécial du Jury at the French Prix des Lecteurs 2007.
Inspired by his childhood in West Africa and by an accidental visit to a British concentration camp, Chris Cleave’s second novel is entitled The Other Hand in the UK, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. It is entitled Little Bee in the US and Canada.
Chris Cleave has been a barman, a long-distance sailor, a teacher of marine navigation, an internet pioneer and a journalist. He lives in London with his French wife and three mischievous Anglo-French children.
An author, poet, illustrator, historian, and naturalist, Helen Macdonald is the author of three books, including the 2014 memoir H is for Hawk – which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award and won the Samuel Johnson Prize and the Costa Book Award. Macdonald describes the year spent training a notoriously difficult-to-tame species of raptor, a Northern Goshawk, as she mourned the unexpected death of her photographer father.
Earlier books include a collection of poems, Shaler’s Fish, and a cultural history, Falcon. An affiliated research scholar in Cambridge University’s history and philosophy of science department, Macdonald writes and narrates radio programmes and appeared in the 2010 BBC documentary series Birds Britannia. She wrote the script for filmmaker Sarah Wood’s Murmuration x 10, which premiered at the Brighton Festival in 2015, and recently completed filming a BBC/PBS documentary about goshawks wild and tamed. Macdonald has also worked as a professional falconer, assisted with the management of raptor research and conservation projects across Eurasia, and bred hunting falcons for Arab royalty.
After forty years of teaching, Hubert Moore was for nine years a writing mentor at the Medical Foundation for the Care of victims of Torture, now Freedom from Torture. At the same time he was a regular visitor of detainees at Dover Detention Centre. His eighth collection of poems, ‘The Bright Gaze of the Disoriented‘, was recently published by Shoestring Press. His poem ‘Hosing Down‘ was winner of the 2013 McLellan Prize and shortlisted for the Forward Prize.
There is an interview with Hubert Moore on The Missing Slate.
Born in Nigeria in 1984, Inua Ellams is an internationally touring poet, playwright, performer, graphic artist & designer. He has published three pamphlets of poetry: ‘Candy Coated Unicorns and Converse All Stars’, ‘Thirteen Fairy Negro Tales’ and ‘The Wire-Headed Heathen’. His first play ‘The 14th Tale’ (a one-man show which he performed) was awarded a Fringe First at the Edinburgh International Theatre Festival and his third, ‘Black T-Shirt Collection’ ran at England’s National Theatre. He is currently working on ‘Barber Shop Chronicles’ – a new play, and a poetry pamphlet called #Afterhours. In graphic art & design, online and in print, he tries to mix the old with the new, juxtaposing texture and pigment with flat shades of colour and vector images.
He lives and works from London, where he founded the Midnight Run, a nocturnal urban excursion.
Here is his home page, Inua Ellams.
His first novel, This Bleeding City, was published by Faber & Faber in the UK, and across twelve further territories. It won the Spear’s and Edinburgh Festival first book prizes as well as being chosen as one of Waterstones New Voices. His second book, The Revelations, was shortlisted for the Guardian’s Not the Booker Prize. His third, In Love and War, was published to critical acclaim in July 2014 and selected for BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. Alex appears regularly on BBC Radio and television. He writes for GQ, Harper’s Bazaar and Town & Country Magazine as well as for the Observer’s New Review. He studied English under Tom Paulin at Hertford College, Oxford, and holds a PhD on Violence in the Modern Novel from UCL. He teaches Creative Writing at the University of Kent and regular Guardian Masterclasses. His homepage is here. Follow @ahmpreston
Her sister, father and other family members were killed by government soldiers and, with her own life in danger, she arrived in the UK as a refugee in July 2001. She is a member of the Medical Foundation’s Write To Life group and published her first collection of poetry, Moving A Country (2013), edited by Tom Green and Lucy Popescu and supported by Platforma. Jade has also performed work at the Battersea Arts Centre and Tate galleries. She has been a volunteer at the Refugee Council since 2005.
Marina Lewycka was born of Ukrainian parents in a refugee camp in Kiel, Germany, after World War II, and now lives in Sheffield, Yorkshire. Her first novel, The Short History of Tractors in Ukrainian (2005) was published when she was 58 years old, and went on to sell a million copies in thirty five languages. It was shortlisted for the 2005 Orange Prize for Fiction, longlisted for the Man Booker prize, won the 2005 Saga Award for Wit and the 2005 Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for Comic Fiction.
Her second novel Two Caravans (2007) (published in US as Strawberry Fields) was short-listed for the George Orwell prize for political writing. We Are All Made of Glue was published in 2009, and touches on the property boom in London, the conflict in the Middle East, epilepsy, cats, bondage, and glue. Her fourth novel Various Pets Alive and Dead, published in 2012, is the story of a family who lived in a commune in the seventies, whose children have grown up with different aspirations: one has become a banker, one is a schoolteacher, and the youngest daughter, who has Down’s syndrome, just wants a place of her own.
Her new novel is The Lubetkin Legacy (2016)
Here is her home page, Marina Lewycka and the British Council’s page about her and her work.
Michael Zand is a writer, editor and researcher. He was born in Iran, but has spent most of his life in London, where he is now Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Roehampton. His research interests lie in alternative translations of Middle Eastern poetry, the use of psycho-geography in contemporary literature, and modern readings of the medieval notion of the “Ashik” or wandering poet.
His collections include Kval (Arthur Shilling, 2009) and Lion: The Iran Poems (Shearsman, 2010). He was included in the Best Poetry of 2011anthology (Salt, 2011) and won the Roehampton Poetry Performance Prize in 2008. His latest collection, The Wire and Other Poems, was published by Shearsman Books in 2012. Michael has participated in various collaborations with musicians and multi-media artists and read at a wide range of poetry events across Europe. Other projects include an ongoing international translation project called Lexico. He is currently working on a contemporary translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam entitled Ruby. In February 2013 his sequence of poems entitled “Pang” was included in an exhibition on “Poets of the Thames” at the Museum of English Rural Life in Reading, Berkshire.
Marina Warner is a writer of fiction and cultural history. Her books include Alone of All Her Sex: The Myth and the Cult of the Virgin Mary (1976), and From the Beast to the Blonde: On Fairy Tales and their Tellers (1994). The same year she gave the BBC Reith Lectures on the theme of Six Myths of Our Time. More recently she has published Stranger Magic: Charmed States and The Arabian Nights (2011) and Once upon a Time: a Short History of Fairytale. Her last novel, The Leto Bundle is about a refugee through time; her third collection of short stories, Fly Away Home was published in 2015. She is Professor of English and Creative Writing at Birkbeck College and a Fellow of All Souls College Oxford.
She is currently working on the theme of Sanctuary and a novel about her childhood in Egypt. She was awarded the Holberg Prize in the Arts and Humanities in 2015 and she chaired the judges panel for the Man Booker International Prize (2015).
His first novel, A Life Apart (2010), won the Writers’ Guild of Great Britain Award for best fiction, and his second novel, The Lives of Others (2014), was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize, the Costa best novel award, and won the Encore Award. His forthcoming novel, A State of Freedom, is out in September 2017. He divides his time between London and the USA. Here is his home page, Neel Mukherjee.
Patience Agbabi has performed her poetry all over the world. She is celebrated for her monologues, giving voice to those who might be otherwise unheard. In 2013, her poem, The Doll’s House, based on Harewood House, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem. She has lectured in several UK universities and has been a Fellow In Creative Writing at Oxford Brookes University since 2008. The following year, she was made Canterbury Laureate and received a Grant for the Arts to write her fourth collection, a Canterbury Tales for the 21st century. Telling Tales (Canongate, 2014) has been described as ‘The liveliest versions of Chaucer you’re likely to read’ – Simon Armitage.
Stephen Collis’s many books of poetry include The Commons (Talon Books 2008; 2014), On the Material (Talon Books 2010—awarded the BC Book Prize for Poetry), DECOMP (with Jordan Scott—Coach House 2013), and Once in Blockadia (Talon Books 2016—nominated for the George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature). He has also written two books of literary criticism, a book of essays on the Occupy Movement, and a novel. Almost Islands is a forthcoming memoir, and a long poem, Sketch of a Poem I Will Not Have Written, is in progress.
He lives near Vancouver, on unceded Coast Salish Territory, and teaches poetry and poetics at Simon Fraser University.
Ian Duhig (b. 1954) was the eighth of eleven children born to Irish parents with a liking for poetry. He has won the National Poetry Competition twice, and also the Forward Prize for Best Poem; his collection, The Lammas Hireling, was the Poetry Book Society’s Choice for Summer 2003, and was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and Forward Prize for Best Collection.
Chosen as a New Generation Poet in 1994, he has received Arts Council and Cholmondeley Awards, and has held various Royal Literary Fund fellowships at universities including Lancaster, Durham, Newcastle and his own alma mater, Leeds.
Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow in 1957, to a family of German Jewish origin with rabbinic ancestors on both sides.
The family moved to London in 1963, where he attended University College School, specialising in classical and modern languages. He further developed his love of literature when reading English at King’s College Cambridge (1976-9). After two years teaching and social work in Israel and England he took a PGCE at Goldsmith’s College, London.
Already deeply involved in Jewish life, he trained for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College London, receiving ordination in 1987, and continued his studies to gain a further rabbinic qualification from his teacher Dr. Aryeh Strikovsky in Israel.
Since then he has worked as rabbi of the New North London Synagogue and has taken a leading role in the development of the Masorti Movement for traditional non-fundamentalist Judaism in England. In 2008 he was appointed Senior Rabbi of Masorti Judaism in the UK. jonathanwittenberg.org
Gillian Slovo is a playwright and the author of thirteen books, including five crime novels, the courtroom drama Red Dust, which was made into a feature film starring Hilary Swank and Chiwetel Ejiofor, and the Orange Prize-shortlisted Ice Road. She co-authored the play Guantanamo – Honor Bound to Defend Freedom, which was staged internationally. Her research for her play The Riots inspired Ten Days. Gillian Slovo was President of English PEN from 2010 to 2013 and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature. She was born in South Africa and lives in London.
She left Sri Lanka with her family, at the start of the civil unrest during the 1960s. She trained as a painter & filmmaker at the Ruskin School of Fine Art, Oxford and then was Leverhulme artist in residence at the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford. Subsequently she was awarded an AHRC Fellowship and worked for three years in museums around Europe on a project accessing narrative within the collections.She has written six novels. Her fifth, The Road To Urbino was published by Little Brown in June 2012 to coincide with the premier of her film of that name at the National Gallery in London. She has been short-listed for the Costa, the Kirimaya & LA Times book prize and long-listed for the Orange Prize in 2011 and, in 2012, the Asian Man Booker. Her sixth novel The White City was published in April 2017.
Patrick Gale was born in 1962, the youngest of four, on the Isle of Wight, where his father was prison governor at Camp Hill. At eight Patrick began boarding as a Winchester College Quirister at the cathedral choir school, Pilgrim’s. At thirteen he went on to Winchester College. He finished his formal education with an English degree from New College, Oxford in 1983.
He has never had a grown-up job. For three years he lived at a succession of addresses, from a Notting Hill bedsit to a crumbling French chateau. While working on his first novels he eked out his slender income with odd jobs; as a typist, a singing waiter, a designer’s secretary, a ghost-writer for an encyclopedia of the musical and, increasingly, as a book reviewer.
His first two novels, The Aerodynamics of Pork and Ease were published by Abacus on the same day in June 1986. The following year he moved to Camelford near the north coast of Cornwall and began a love affair with the county that has fed his work ever since.
He now lives in the far west, on a farm near Land’s End with his husband, Aidan Hicks. There they raise beef cattle and grow barley. Patrick is obsessed with the garden they have created in what must be one of England’s windiest sites and which includes England’s westernmost walled rose garden, and he deeply resents the time his writing makes him spend away from working in it. As well as gardening, he plays both the modern and baroque cello. He chairs the North Cornwall Book Festival, patron of Penzance LitFest and a director of both Endelienta and the Charles Causley Trust. His chief extravagance in life is opera tickets. galewarning.org
Bernardine Evaristo is the award-winning author of eight books of fiction and verse fiction including Mr Loverman (Penguin 2013), Lara (Bloodaxe 2009), Blonde Roots (Penguin 2008) and The Emperor’s Babe (Penguin 2001). Her other writing includes drama and other writing for BBC Radio 3 & 4, as well as fiction, poetry, memoir, theatre drama and essays. She has also undertaken many editorships and writes literary criticism for the national newspapers and magazines.
Her writing is focused on African diaspora interests and is characterised by unique temporal, spatial and stylistic experiments that connect and explore the borders of genre, race, gender, culture, history and sexuality. She has accepted over 150 invitations to present her work and ideas world-wide and frequently appears at literary events in Britain. She has also judged and chaired many literary prizes and founded The Complete Works poetry development scheme for poets of colour in 2007 and the Brunel International African Poetry Prize in 2011.
She earned her PhD in Creative Writing from Goldsmiths, University of London, and has received many honours, awards, nominations & prestigious selections for her books. Two monographs have been published about her writing since 2011.
In 2004 she was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; in 2006 she was appointed a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature; and in 2017 she was elected a Fellow of the English Association.
In 2009 she was made an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for being ‘a major voice in the multicultural panorama of multicultural British literature’.
She is Professor of Creative Writing at Brunel University London. bevaristo.com